• Columbus East High School

    East Olympian Torch created by Phil Miller

    Special Education Department


    Though all students must participate in some form of state-wide and district-wide assessment, Hoosier students who plan to earn a diploma must pass the Graduation Qualifying Examination, OR meet the Core 40 requirement, OR demonstrate mastery of 9th grade academic standards through the “waiver” or “alternate documentation” process. They must meet all other state and local graduation requirements as well. 

    If a student is receiving special education services, his or her case conference committee may decide that certain accommodations are necessary for classroom instruction and testing.  These accommodations, documented in the IEP or Section 504 Plan, also may be appropriate for the GQE.  Testing accommodations may include a longer testing time, the use of a scribe or sign language interpreter, testing in a separate location, use of a word processor (with grammar and spell check features turned off), among other things.  However, modifications of test content or of academic standards are not allowed.  That is, students are not to receive shortened tests, are not allowed to choose from a reduced number of possible answers, are not to have the reading comprehension portions read to them, and will not receive simplified instructions. A more complete listing and discussion of testing accommodations is contained in the 2002-2003 ISTEP+ Program Manual, Appendix A, mentioned in the Notes at the end of this article.

    Passing the GQE, and satisfying other state and local graduation requirements, is one way for students to become eligible for a diploma. By passing the English/language arts and mathematics sections, students are able to show that they understand and can use basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.  If they do not pass the GQE in the fall of Grade 10, they have four other opportunities to retake the test or a particular section during high school, at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters of the two following years.

    The second way to meet the academic standard is to successfully complete all components of the Core 40 curriculum, as stipulated in Indiana Code 20-10.1-16-13, Section (c), and satisfy all other state and local graduation requirements.  The Core 40 curriculum has been designed to prepare students for college.  A high school counselor or principal can help determine if the student is able to satisfy the graduation requirement through this method.

    The third way for a student with a disability to become eligible to earn a diploma is described in Indiana Code (law) at IC 20-10.1-16-13 at subsection (e) which is reprinted below. This is often referred to as the “waiver” process or the “alternate documentation” process

    (e) This subsection applies to a student who is a child with a disability (as defined in IC 20-1-6-1).  If the student does not achieve a passing score on the graduation examination, the student’s case conference committee may determine that the student is eligible to graduate if the case conference committee finds the following:

    (1)   The student’s teacher of record, in consultation with a teacher of the student in each subject area in which the student has not achieved a passing score, makes a written recommendation to the case conference committee.  The recommendation must:

    (A)   be concurred in by the principal of the student’s school; and

    (B)   be supported by documentation that the student has attained the academic standard in the subject area based upon:

    (i)    tests other than the graduation examination; or

    (ii)   classroom work.

    (2)   The student meets all of the following requirements:

    (A)   Retakes the graduation examination in each subject area in which the student did not achieve a passing score as often as required by the student’s individualized education program.

    (B)   Completes remediation opportunities provided to the student by the student’s school to the extent required by the student’s individualized education program.

    (C)  Maintains a school attendance rate of at least ninety-five percent (95%) to the extent required by the student’s individualized education program with excused absences not counting against the student’s attendance.

    (D)  Maintains at least a “C” average or the equivalent in the courses comprising the credits specifically required for graduation by rule of the board.

    (E) Otherwise satisfies all state and local graduation requirements.




    1.      The door never closes on your opportunity to earn a high school diploma.  If you are no longer in high school and still need to pass one or both sections of the GQE in order to graduate, you can take the test at specific locations throughout the state.  (Passing the GQE first became a requirement for graduation beginning with the Class of 2000.)  You must have satisfactorily completed all other graduation requirements.  Call the ISTEP+ Hotline at 1-888-54-ISTEP (1-888-544-7837) for more information.

    2.      The “waiver” or “alternate documentation” process described in this article is for students with disabilities.  For information concerning the alternate documentation process to be followed by students who do not have a disability, and who did not achieve a passing score on the GQE, and who meet all other state and local requirements for graduation, refer to IC 20-10.1-16-13, Section (d).

    3.      Legislation referring to ISTEP+ and the GQE can be found in the 2002-2003 ISTEP+ Program Manual, Appendix A.  The manual can be downloaded from the Indiana Department of Education  website at www.doe.state.in.us/istep.  For the legislation cited in this article, refer to Pages 41 and 42.

    4.      Students with disabilities who are not eligible to earn a diploma will generally be eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion. The Certificate of Completion is not a credential as is a diploma, but students receiving a Certificate of Completion are eligible to participate in any graduation ceremonies the school may sponsor. Students whose IEP contemplates their earning a diploma, but who do not meet the requirements to graduate with a diploma, may wish to re-convene their case conference committee to revise their IEP to specify a Certificate of Completion.



Last Modified on September 25, 2009